Sh, Sh its Shelia the Shark Shaking the Shells

Megan Stephenson

Lesson Design: Beginning Reading



Rationale: For children to be able to read and spell words, it is crucial for them to understand letters that stand for phonemes. They also need to have knowledge of and understand of alphabetic mapping and be able to relate it to understand the phonemes in spoken words. In some cases, phonemes are represented by digraphs, or two letters.  We can refer to these as "letter teams".  In this lesson, children will undergo the learning of a meaningful representation of the digraph /sh/ and fully understand how these two letters work together to create this phoneme. The concept of this lesson is for children to be able to recognize /sh/ by its letter symbols, a beginning sound in spoken words, and in written words.  Towards the end of the lesson, I will briefly review some words with /sh/ ending sound but it won’t be explicitly taught early in the lesson. The focus is beginning sounds.



 - Class copies of The Crash in the Shed

-primary paper

- Poster with tongue tickler: "Sh, Sh its Shelia the Shark shaking the shells."

- Mini Sets LBL boxes for each student

- Letters for each student dash, stop, shoe, hat, cash, sheep (d,a,s,h,t,o,p,e,e,c)

- Giant Letterboxes and letters for teacher to model  and show a sample letterbox lesson in front of class with interaction.

- Handouts for the class with various pictures that have the /sh/ sound (ash, mesh, fish, cat); put words on right column and pictures on left column (mixed up) and match words to pictures.

    -Also needed for assessment: worksheet with "sh" words. They will have directions to circle the words that have the "sh" sound in it.


Procedures: 1. Say: The way we speak and write is sort of like a code. Sometimes, it can be tricky learning what letters stand for. But, there are fun ways to learn how our mouth moves we make as we say words. Today, we will be working on the mouth move /sh/ and how the two letters s and h work together as a team to make this sound. When two letters work together to make one sound we call it a digraph, or "letter team". Let’s learn more about how this letter team works!



2." Let’s pretend like we are trying to be really quiet. "SHHH.. SHHHH.. SHHH" Do you hear the /sh/ sound as we say this together sh sh sh…"


3. For the next step, we will review mouth move. "What is your mouth doing when you make that sound? Is there any air coming out? Yes, very good. There is air coming out." We are going to practice listening for this sound and watch my mouth how it moves when I say the different words!

"Do you hear sh in chalk or shake?"

"Do you hear sh in ship or chase?"

"Do you hear sh in shell or chew?"

"Do you hear sh in cash or chair?"

"Do you hear sh in shoe or champ?"



4. Say: Okay, now I’m going to say a bunch of funny words all put together in a silly sentence. This is called a tongue tickler [on chart]. Let’s try this together! "Sh Sh its Sheila the Shark Shaking the Shells." Okay let’s say it three times together. Now that we can say this tongue twister, this time, let’s says it and practice stretching the /sh/ at the beginning of all the words.  Can you hear /sh/ in every word? Say each of them slowly. Try it again and this time, break it off the word:" /Sh/ /Sh/ its /Sh/eila the /Sh/ark /Sh/aking the /Sh/ells". I think we have got a good handle on listening for the /sh/ sounds in words, now we can practice how to write it!



5. The student will take out primary paper, pencil, and a clipboard if needed and I will prepare him to being writing. Say:Remember, the letters s and h work together as a team to spell /sh/. Start with your pencil just a little bit below the fence, move your pencil in a curved direction through the middle line then swoop it back to the bottom line. This is your s. Now take your pencil to the sky, and move it straight down to the ground. Go back up to the fence, around, and straight down to the ground. Now you have your h. These two letters together make /sh/. Practice writing this combination on your own.


6. Have everyone take out their letterboxes and letters. Tell students Say: Remember that each box stands for one sound, so when letters are teamed up, like s and h, they only get one box. Now, I will show you how to spell the word ship in your letterboxes. Say, The first sound I hear is /sh/, so I will put the letters s and h in the first box together. [teacher shows how to spell ship in boxes]. Since we know how to do this now, let us spell some words in our letterboxes: dash, stop, hat, cash, sheep. (Walking around the room) Good job!! Now, all together we will read the words we spelled in our letterboxes. (Teacher writes the word dash on the board and models reading it by sounding out each phoneme, /d/a/sh/, and continues to do this with the rest of the words with the class all together. This lesson will go on through the rest of the words and teacher will continue to assess by observing student’s responses).


7. Say: Now, we are going to be able to use our skills of listening and look for this /sh/sound when we read this book. Everyone needs a partner and you can buddy up together and use this marker and mark next to every word that you hear the /sh/ sound in. Take turns reading and checking for the /sh/ sound. In this story, The Crash in the Shed, Ben and Jess can't make up their minds whether to fish or collect shells. Suddenly they hear a crash in the shed. Sounds like trouble![ After reading, get students back together and ask them what words they found and write them on the board. Ask students if they can think of any other words with the /sh/ sound and write them also]



8. One thing we also need to talk about is that /sh/ can also be found at the end of the word. In most of the words we have seen and hear today, they begin with /ch/. We can also find the /sh/ sound in the middle or end of words. Listen to these word pairs, do you hear the /sh sound? BASH or BATCH. FISH or FRENCH .  GASH or BEAM. SASH or SUCH. So, remember that you can find the /sh/sound in words in many different ways. Now, we are going to brain storm together and try to think of some more /sh/ words we know. [Pull out a sheet of paper and write words that you and the student brainstorm]


9. For assessment, all that needs to be done is handing out a worksheet. Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the pictures that begin with /sh/.








McIntosh, Kelly. 'Ssshhopping for Ssshhells' Auburn University Reading Genie Website, 2005.

Murray, B.A. and Lesniak, T. (1999). 'The Letterbox Lesson: A hands on approach for teaching decoding.' The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

Murray, Geri. The Crash in the Shed. Reading Genie Collection, 2006.

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